Ladies Night, Family-Style

My family made up a group of 11 for my show Saturday night! I was surprised by tears that threatened to roll when the curtain rose. The Overture was well on its way, but that curtain lifted and I was ready to cry! It meant so much to have them there.

I’ve never had such a large crowd rooting for me all at once. Mom really came through for me. I asked her to bring “all the girls.” 2 aunts came with 1 uncle, my GRANDMA, all 4 nieces, my sis, sister-in-law, and mom. ❤

My aunt made fun of me for not acting at all. “I’m uniquely qualified to play a neurotic showgirl,” I agreed. (One reviewer wrote, “The real standout is Adelaide.” She doesn’t need to know it’s not an act.)

Tech week was officially the worst of them all. They kept us after midnight every night before opening! One night I got home after 2am! I was livid. The next day, 2 hot box dancers fainted onstage. I was one of them. When they advised me to take care of myself, I nearly walked off. Let me SLEEP! And when am I supposed to be feeding myself (or shopping for groceries) if you keep me for 7 hours after I work 8?

I’m still annoyed.

I’ve never rehearsed for 7 hours when I wasn’t getting paid. This is community theatre. You have no right to ask more than 3-4 hours after work, and whatever you like on Saturdays. Or you start sooner. I wondered from the beginning how they thought they were putting on such a big show in less than 2 months. I was furious to be proven right, and then completely dismissed and mildly chastised.

“You have to take care of yourself.”

You better take care, right now!

Then we opened, and it all went away. Really! (I was surprised. I was over it.) I felt united, excited, and full of togetherness and nerves.

I was terrified. I’ve never felt less ready to open, but we just needed our audience. There’s nothing like that symbiotic energy. It’s magic!

I love this part. “Guys & Dolls” is just great, classic American musical theatre, and Adelaide is my love song. You know what else? I’m good in this role. I don’t know why. I’m not the best dancer, singer, actor, anything, but I have heart.

I guess that’s it. I feel it. I’m not faking. You can feel me all the way to the rafters. I hold nothing back, and theatre seems to be the only place that’s appreciated.

Also, I’m hilarious. I got props in the review for comedic timing. In any case, I crack myself up. (A friend described me in 1995. “The thing I love about Christie,” he said,  “is she laughs harder at her own jokes than anyone.”) There’s one other guy whose ad libs are funnier than mine, and we’ve been vying all rehearsal long. (He’s cute and divorced. I checked his Facebook. He’s also Mormon. I checked his garment line.)

More than anyone, my Nathan has become a dear friend and confidante. I love him. I love that he’s on the planet. I love that he’s raising children. He’s been so kind to me. He’s a kind, good person who humbles and inspires me.

Theatre has been so generous since my return at 40. I hoped to be a dancing secretary in the ensemble of “How To Succeed,” and I got Hedy Larue! That was far beyond what I expected. I just wanted to play. To feel that particular expression of creativity again. Meeting Maurie, my director, is forever one of the greatest gifts. She builds people up.
hedy 2

I did “9 to 5” for Maurie 2 years later, upon request, just because I love her.
mr and mrs franklin hart jr

“Avenue Q,” at a community theatre in UTAH? Come on! Bad Idea Bear? Best part!
bad idea bears

And now Adelaide, who’s all I ever wanted. Everything else has been a surprise and a freebie along the way. I’m so fortunate. I’m proud. I enjoy my talent, finally, and I feel honored by the generosity of those who chose me and worked with me.
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I don’t know when I’ll do another show. I’m satisfied.

In 2018, I’m looking forward to centering and simplifying. I want to sing for old folks again. I’m excited for yoga, belly dance, Afro-Brazilian/Samba (easier on the body than full-on African), drumming on Saturdays, online piano lessons, guitar (songwriting will fall out of me if I just commit to getting those callouses and chords), and mastering the didgeridoo after 10 years of knowing Marko. It’s all right there, and I just sat on it.

I’m not sitting anymore.
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Not Bad

Not bad at all!

Marko and I pulled into Millcreek Bar and Grill, and I freaked out. “Why is it packed on a Thursday night?!”

It’s strange how the nerves never lessen.

Thankfully, by the time I sang I’d had two beers and the main dinner crowd had gone home. The remainder was a room full of mainly gratis musicians and their friends, and they beamed at me. What a wonderful place to push through fear. This is the best audition practice I could have hoped for! (March 22nd, “Children of Eden”… Wish me luck!)

Speaking of musical theatre, a friend from “How to Succeed” came to see me! I had posted on Facebook, of course, mostly just to congratulate myself on being brave and awesome, and Keith, who played Biggley in the other cast, showed up! Biggley was my “romantic” (wealthy) lead. (Hedy was a gold-digger with a heart of gold. 🙂 ) Keith and I performed together twice, my opening night and his closing. I was touched beyond words. I didn’t expect (or really even want) anyone to show up (yet), and I certainly wouldn’t have expected someone I only met in a show months and months ago. How kind!

It was a great night. I was calm up there! I remember thinking at one point, “Wow, my arms aren’t giving me any fits at all.” Haha! I seemed self-assured and very comfortable. My voice quivered a time or two and I hit one sour note, but it was a quick one and disappeared nicely behind the ending crescendo, which we nailed before bursting out laughing to great applause.

I have walked into something rare, indeed.

See you next week!

Careful What You Wish For

I literally prayed, “You can lay me down for a week after we close, but don’t let me get sick during the run.” I woke up Sunday morning practically immobilized. I felt like I was getting sick several times, and I told my angels again, “Not ’til the show closes!” I was amazed that I didn’t get sick. (I get everything that comes around. I’m sick in bed for days at least twice a year.) We had a girl with walking pneumonia in the cast, two girls with bronchitis that led to sinus infection, and the old woman at my work had laryngitis. I never got sick! ‘Til I said I would.

I don’t care. I closed that baby, and it was awesome!

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“Her name is LaRue… Hedy LaRue.”favorite dress

That’s A Wrap!

I’m ready for the show to close. It was at its best, in my opinion, about a week and a half ago. Some of our liberties and characterizations have begun to affect the timing of the show and our chemistry was officially off last night. That being said, let me again sing the praises of my experience at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre and publicly express gratitude for my amazing reintroduction to theatre. It was everything I wanted from coming back.

I love this company! It is without question the nicest facility I’ve ever performed in. For heaven’s sake, we have a Green Room! I’ve never been in a show with a full crew of techs running around managing our choas linked to each other by headset. They applaud us and cheer every night as we exit! My director, Maurie, took a chance on a girl who didn’t fit the bill (body) of Hedy LaRue, but had “something so immediate and likeable [she] knew she had to have [me].” That is humbling, indeed, and she was wonderful to work with. It was always a fun, uplifting, inspiring experience to rehearse with her. I guess I still have the dissatisfied perfectionist in me because she reminded me several times to trust myself. “You have great instincts onstage,” she said more than once. (I was unaware that I continue to be so hard on myself, because I truly enjoyed the experience of developing this character and “growing” a show, and was never short with my co-workers or sick with my own incompetence.) Above all, my cast has been such a joyful, beautiful bunch o’ good folk. I was blessed to spend a summer with them. It was a different experience than those I’ve had before. I’ve only done summer stock, where we live, eat, breathe (kill, puke, suffocate) each other. I didn’t expect to become so emotionally invested in people I simply spent time with for a few hours after work each night. I came to love them.

Our family started to really gel after the show went into production. The ladies dressing room was a place of laughter, support, a little wickedness, and a lot of love. We saw each other through some amazing things: a brand new best-friendship between our 2 darling high school girls, 2 new love affairs (including mine), freaking out in relationships (only mine), the loss of a grandchild, and an adoption approval! When our sweet friend lost her grandbaby, another woman in the cast came in on Monday and hugged her after a weekend apart, as we all did, but when she said, “Please tell your daughter she’s been in my prayers,” I actually felt her praying and began to cry. It’s common in this community to hear people say to one another, “I’m praying for you.” I think all expressions of concern and prayerfulness are unifying, healing, and holy, but never have I “seen” someone kneeling in her home pleading with the Lord to comfort this young mother and all of her family.

The men took longer to bond with but, then, we didn’t get naked together every other night. Of course, the usual backstage pranks and hijinks did their work and cemented the whole lot of us into one. And now I’m ready to be rid of them. 🙂

How I have loved this experience. A true blessing.

Three things have changed since I last performed 2 decades ago: Stage make-up looks a LOT better on twenty year-old skin! Back then, we sat in the dressing room and chatted with each other, not with absentees via text. And social media didn’t exist to draw the crowds. In a month, there have been only two shows in which I knew no one in the audience. I feel so supported and humbled, and so very grateful.

Oh, and one more thing: My mom came. mom and meAnd my sissy, but there’s nothing new about that. Meet the only person who’s come to every show I’ve done. That’s just the kind of girl she is, to everyone. mel and me

I only got one sister. The best one.

Red Hedy

Since our show is divided into 2 casts (I perform Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday), my crew has taken to calling me Red Hedy. The originator rather sheepishly asked during Hell Week if that was okay with me. I couldn’t be more delighted! I learned that she’d named me before we even knew which cast was which, when she expressed to friends, “I hope we get Red Hedy!” That’s a huge compliment and a great laugh! Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger! 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

And here I am. And here he is. I have a huge chin and cheesy-ass grin, but every girl deserves to have a boy look at her like that. dave n me

My First Review!

I only got one [shared] sentence, but that sentence liked me. Hooray!

http://utahtheatrebloggers.com/16535/centerpoints-how-to-succeed-in-business-is-satire-done-right

Other reviews were weird. The Standard Examiner reported that I got out of theatre at 23, which I did, and that it was a choice I regretted, which I didn’t. I left the stage because I was a flailing young woman from a chaotic upbringing, who needed to reign in her personal drama before she could usefully apply and enjoy her theatricality. It’s a choice I’m proud of, and the break accomplished precisely what I intended. (Incidentally, I announced to the press that I turned 40 this year, haha! Freaking love FORTY!!!) The other review was more of a plot synopsis by a writer who failed to proofread or check her facts and hates the show. (Sexism in the workplace in the 60s – and today – is rather galling, and I still cringe at a few albeit satirical lines.) While she saw my portrayal as a mere caricature, she seemed to think I brought some comedic thrust to the production.
http://go.standard.net/story/high-energy-how-to-succeed-comes-to-centerville
http://davisclipper.com/view/full_story/23452235/article-Workin–for-a-laugh–Delivery-helps-the-humor-in-CPT-s–How-to-Succeed-

Hedy Blossoms

Last night, I got a ride home from rehearsal. My castmate paid me a great compliment when he said, “You play Hedy very real.”

That’s exactly what I was going for! I think Hedy’s charm and beauty, and her humor, lie in the fact that she just plain means it. She’s just plain ditzy. She’s just plain sexy. She’s just plain gonna pull a few shrewd (harmless) punches to get what she wants. She’s darling! I’ve fallen in love with her. She’s sincere. I don’t want her to be a caricature.

It’s the last thing I wrote in my journal 8 days ago. I never write there anymore. You are my journal, Virtual Faceless Public. That’s just a food tracker these days.

“It’s so easy to play for laughs,” I wrote. “I’ve always wanted to be seen as funny. But honest is funny. Hedy doesn’t mean to be funny. She means it! And that’s funny.”

So… Now that I’ve succeeded in establishing that piece of this beautiful girl I love, I get to PLAY!!! I get to add character. I’ll continue to do my homework and get her accent as close to authentic something-outta-New-York as I can (I’ve never even been back East), but let’s face it: It’s suburban Utah. A caricature-ish version of Brooklynese will serve. What I most look forward to playing with are her juicy layers! All of her reasons, her fears. I will live her laughs large, but never milk them to the point of pulling focus or being anything other than the wonderful, outrageous, hilarious, sensuous, ambitious girl she is!

Remember when I was an ungrateful twenty year-old tired of the same old part? (Boo hoo, pretty ingenue.) Hedy is why! She’s so fun! I love worrying about her. I feel alive again. “Ugh,” I complained sixteen years ago when I turned my back on show. “Maybe I’ll get back into theatre when I’m forty and the parts are interesting.” (Yeah, I wanna smack that kid, too, bless her heart.) Forty Fabulous Forty!

Hedy blossoms elsewhere, too.hedy blossoms 1anerf cups39,22,38Well, if a drag queen can do it…